Having family members with autism disorders can be challenging. You can love and understand them, but know that the world won’t always see things the same way.
But the experience of caring for someone with autism can also be a blessing. In one young woman’s heartfelt Facebook post, she reveals how her brothers are more than their disorder—and how they shaped her into the person she is today.
Ali Carbone, a 26-year-old from Long Island, New York, understands more than anybody what it’s like to grow up with family on the spectrum:
All three of her brothers have different kinds of autism.
“The spectrum is wide, and is represented perfectly under one roof in my home,” Carbone wrote on Facebook.
“My oldest brother is non-verbal, blind and epileptic. My middle brother is verbal, social and suffers from severe OCD. My youngest is mildly verbal and hyperactive.”
Carbone says she didn’t notice her younger brothers’ challenges when she was young—it was only when she got a little older, and started comparing her family to outsiders, that she noticed their differences.
“It wasn’t until I was in [elementary] school and aware of my surroundings, going on play dates and seeing how my friends and their siblings interacted and how their family dynamics were so different than what I experienced every day, that I began to realize,” she told Love What Matters.
Carbone admits that things haven’t been easy for her family—but writes that she’s felt an unexpected “advantage in life.”
She says her brothers have made her more compassionate towards others.
“As a kid, I already understood compassion and could instantly tell if another kid around me was disabled or autistic, and I’d treat them with kindness,” she wrote.
“My brothers, and autism, have taught me everything I know to be true about life. Real life. How to live, how to treat people, how to think and how to feel.”
She hopes that other people, who maybe aren’t affected firsthand by autism, can still be understanding of those different than them: “Someone always has it worse than you. Always be kind because you never know what someone is going through at home.”
Carbone shared a recent photo of herself with her three brothers, posing outside their home—and Carbone admits it’s a “rare picture of everyone dressed up smiling.”
While they all have autism, Carbone says it doesn’t define who they are.
Despite their challenges, Michael, Anthony and Luke are all individuals with fun, loving personalities.
“Michael lives for a good Disney movie throwback, and would be content with giving hugs and kisses all day, every day.”
“Anthony quite literally thinks he’s Michael Jackson and will destroy you in any performance-related competition.”
“Luke loves to run and hang outside, and will take every opportunity to mess with his oldest brother. That is who they are.
With this touching personal account, which has been shared over a thousand times on Facebook, Carbone hopes to inspire people to treat others with kindness and consideration:
“This month, and every day going forward, do your best to be kind,” she wrote. “If you see a kid flapping their arms, don’t laugh. If you see an adult having a meltdown, don’t stare. If they go for a hug or high five, don’t shy away.”
“A smile from a stranger can quite literally change our day.”